How to Start a Wellness Journaling Practice
You’ve heard it before: Journaling is a practice with a whole trove of benefits for mental and emotional health, sparking creativity, and more. But what about a wellness journal-one specifically dedicated to improving your well-being via the implementation of mindfulness practices, tracking new lifestyle habits and behavioral changes, and more?
Thanks to Tiktok, where the hashtag #wellnessjournal has now garnered over 1.5 million views, the wellness journaling practice has skyrocketed in popularity over the past year.
“Journaling is a great way to release pressure and reveal your authentic thoughts and feelings,” shares Leela Hoehn, founder and creative director of The Rainbow Vision, a paper goods and gift brand that designs tools-planners, journals, and more-meant to inspire those looking to add more creativity into their lives.
“Having a journal is a great way to create safe space just for you,” Hoehn continues. “I love to journal because oftentimes I just need a place to allow myself to ramble and let the mental chatter come out. It’s usually when I’m just free writing that I come to some clear conclusions about how I feel, or a great new idea emerges.”
Keep reading for ideas on how to get started with your own wellness journaling practice.
What can you use your wellness journal for?
Brain dump first thing in the morning. Once you’ve chosen a journal you’re excited to crack open and start filling up, let it add some structure to your routine by starting your day with it. You can try morning pages to start with-either by setting a timer or a page limit, and then free writing until you reach your goal.
“I am a huge fan of morning pages,” shares Hoehn. “This is where you sit down in the morning and write and write and write and fill up several pages of your journal with just whatever comes to mind. You don’t have to have coherent thoughts, there’s no productive outcome. You can even write the same word over and over if nothing else comes to mind. When you do this you are allowing yourself to purge the mental chatter and get clear for the day. I’ve found that when I’ve allowed myself time to write at least 5 pages in the morning I can start my day with more calm and confidence,” she adds.
Track habit or behavior changes you’d like to incorporate into your daily routine. Want to get more daily steps or start doing low-intensity pilates three times a week? Jot it down in your wellness journal. You can also create a weekly schedule for workouts or chart your little wins when it comes to setting an earlier bedtime target or not hitting snooze so many times in the morning.
Need some extra help? Turn on Bedtime Reminders with Fitbit, and make it easier on yourself to follow through with an earlier wake time by setting your Fitbit to wake you up gently in the morning. With Smart Wake, you can set your Fitbit alarm to wake you up with a quiet vibration during a lighter sleep stage-and feel more refreshed in the AM. Here’s how:
Set a silent alarm using the Fitbit app (or set one up directly on your smartwatch) and check the “Smart Wake” box. Using 24/7 heart rate and sensitive motion detectors, your tracker or watch estimates which stage of sleep you’re in-and will then wake you up while you’re in a lighter sleep stage, up to 30 minutes prior to your desired wake-up time.
Notice patterns. In addition to setting goals, you can use your wellness journal to notice the patterns of behaviors you exhibit in your daily life. Stay general by touching on broader patterns, like congratulating yourself for biking to work instead of driving once or twice a week, or get as granular as you like.
For example, maybe you notice that when you walk more throughout the day, you get better Zzz’s at night.
You can use Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score to help discover patterns like this as well. Daily Readiness on Fitbit Premium helps you understand your readiness to take on exercise or recovery each day based on three key factors: your activity, heart rate, and sleep. (Read more about one Fitbit editor’s experience with it here.)
Set intentions. “Generally when I set an intention for the week I like to write down how I want to feel,” shares Hoehn. “No matter what I have going on that week, whether it’s filled with tasks and important deadlines, or it’s more loose-ended, I like to try and create a lens for my experience. A regular intention that I like to write down is ‘keep it fun,’ especially during my busier weeks. I can easily let myself feel bogged down and forget that there’s a lot of joy to be experienced even during the minutiae of everyday life. Having that reminder there helps me snap out of it,” she adds.
You can also track the goals and intentions you’ve set by following up with yourself at regular intervals. We’ve all heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit; but are you checking in with yourself again at the three and six month mark to see if you’re still getting as much as you can from the new habits you’ve added into your morning routine? Whenever you’re ready, you can use your wellness journal as a reminder to get back on track.
Can’t get into gratitude lists? Try making a new kind of list entirely. Feeling bogged down by what seems like a never-ending to-do list-including one that seems to feature a whole host of new wellness tasks to try and items to tackle?
Try opting for a “success list” instead-at least, within the pages of your wellness journal. This is exactly what it sounds like: a list of daily achievements or minor successes that you’re proud of yourself for making! Maybe it’s choosing to walk to work instead of taking the bus, or crushing your presentation (whether you gave it virtually or in-person). Maybe it’s finally implementing a breathwork practice into your day-to-day. You get to choose which accomplishments to include-and how to prioritize them.
The amount of structure you decide to go with is up to you
Ultimately, wellness-or more specifically, fostering a sense of well-being in your everyday life-is a process you make entirely your own. If you feel that a new wellness journal with all the bells and whistles, like graphs for habit tracking or a specific section for affirmations, for example, would work best for you, then good news: there are plenty of options available.
Or, if you have a blank spiral notebook that’s been gathering dust in your bedroom or home office space, why not put it to use? There are no rules here-cultivate your wellness journaling practice in a way that feels good to you.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.
Kimia Madani is an Editor at Fitbit and a lover of all things wellness. Other passions include random dance parties, cold brew coffee, browsing used bookstores, and creating content that changes people’s lives for the better. When she’s not managing the blog at Fitbit, traveling, or planning her next adventure, Kimia is busy doing yoga, collecting crystals, and getting her steps in while trekking the colorful hills of San Francisco.